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It's ok ray, we don't agree with you either.
Believe it or not there are a few pioneers and experts in the hobby that are on here, some of the best in the country(no I do not think I am one). We are not all idiots. With some listening and humility you might learn something.
You are right! I'm crazy and the photos of my tank are nothing but figments of my schizoid insanity. I never had Oto cats, Neon tetras or any other fish species breed in my tank. I'm insane because I'm planning to introduce Cabomba furcata in my tank.
Here is my plea! If you actually OWN a pH controller like I do then speak up!
If you don't own one, then how can you criticise/praise it?
 

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KIS = keep it simple. As Houseofcards and others said, its just another thing to keep up and another item that could break.
How simple is this.

I set my drop counter to a level that gives me 20 ppm CO2. I set my pH meter to 6.7. When I go to sleep the pH is 6.7 and CO2 is 18 ppm. When I wake up the pH is 6.7 the CO2 is 18 ppm. I'm at full lights and my plants are cranking out tons of O2 (without a controller the pH will go up as high as 8.0) the pH of my tank is 6.7 and CO2 is 18ppm. My pH controller dies, pH increases with plant photosynthesis gradually to 8. (Same a when you run out of CO2).

OK what is simpler?
 

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I'm sorry ray, did you start the estimative index. Or may be the 4dkh water for drop checkers? Was it you that with years of testing came up with the wpg rule? Was adding co2 in to planted aquariums your Idea? (once again I am not referring to my self) That is how one gets to jedi level. Just because some one dose not post that the have a ph controller does not mean that they do not have on and have never used one. Most do have more than one tank, there are even a few on here with rooms and basements full of tanks.

If I may quote a jedi

Controllers
by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001

> I think Dave was questioning the policy of using a pH
> controller, not the
> technical details. His question is (and it's a good one);
> your fish
> don't need it, your plants don't need it, so why do you need
> it?
>
> Two possible reasons come to mind. You can get it to help
> prevent
> end-of-tank dumps. Or you could get it to keep CO2 from
> getting too high
> at night. I suppose you could also get one to amuse yourself
> or to
> relieve yourself of some heavy and otherwise useless cash.

Roger's notions are echoed here. But a pH controller can kill as
easily as an end of tank dump which if you have a needle valve
doesn't happen in any tank I've seen ever.

A pH controlled tank has a higher bubble rate than a tank with
such a controller. It throttles between the higher rate and
shutting off the flow of gas in most set ups utilizing a
solinoid. If it didn't do this and have a higher set rate than a
non controlled CO2 set up then you'd never have it turning on
and off or at least very little. It could never catch up to the
pH set rate if you get it too close, so all have been set higher
than the normal non-controlled bubble rate(no controller-just
setting the needle valve to get a stable pH.). You can use the
powerhead also to "turn" on or off the CO2(this will overdose
your system byitself but does waste gas) or both in conjunction.
Most folks go with a solinoid since it saves on gas usage
supposedly(I disagree with this idea that it really uses
less-the tank still needs the same amount of CO2 for the
plants). If you set a gas tank plus a needle valve properly it
will do as good as any controller set up. If the solinoid sticks
open as at least 3 have that I personally know of(-not all were
FW plant tanks, one was salt)you will have too much CO2 being
added non stop.....this is as bad as an end O tank dump and
can/has killed fish etc. This is **rare** as is the probe
falling out etc but it does and can happen. Solinoids can stick
open. Another item that I find useless....
My point is if you have $ burn it's fine. Fish don't care,
plants don't either. But I have both and see little if any
difference in actual pH ranges(the controller experieces lag
times) so why blow another 100+$ and 40-90$ for a solinoid and
have a more complex set up that is set to over dose if your
controls are messed up by some accident, even if rare? A needle
valve is pretty darn reliable by itself. Simple and cost less
and can be easily adjusted by a very simple turn of the knob, no
soliniod needed and no "another piece of crap to plug in". I
estimated how much CO2 gas a soliniod would save me to justify a
40-50$ soliniod. It's like 5-to 10 years or so. I can live with
that but that's not including the electric. I think the usage
based on a 1/2 open usage came to about 3+$ a year here in CA
where the cost for electric is ever so cheap....:)

Folks should with either/any system have good even mixing and
flow. This will give a much more even & accurate pH and
therefore indicate a truer CO2 level with reduced lag times.
Regards,
Tom Barr

(Tom, I hope you don't mind me quoting you here)

Like I said listen and learn, by the way being a scientist is also a good way to gain jedi status.
 

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Controllers
by Thomas Barr <tcbiii/yahoo.com>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001

> I think Dave was questioning the policy of using a pH
> controller, not the
> technical details.
................
..............
Like I said listen and learn, by the way being a scientist is also a good way to gain jedi status.
Didn't want to waste band width by including the whole of the quote but it is perfectly obvious that Tom Barr had never used a modern pH controller at that point otherwise he would at least have known how they work.

Here is a fact. If your pH controller fails it is the same thing as running out of CO2. If your pH meter goes out of wack, you have a plain vanilla CO2 system with no controller just like every one else.

I thought that Jedi were open to new experience.

Again here is the challenge! Anyone who actually OWNS a pH controller is welcome to speak up otherwise how do you know what you are talking about.

BTW I am a scientist. Been one for quite some time. My background is in Chemistry/Biology. But I consider myself an intermediate in this hobby.
 

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I think it is possible and desirable to disagree with someone and do it with good humor. We all know various things about this hobby, from experience, from experimenting, and from research. But, we don't all interpret what we know the same way. There is plenty of room for multiple interpretations.
 

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Personally, I like not using one, as it allows oxygen levels to increase at night, when plants and fish need it. Injecting CO2 without light makes very little sense to me. As a scientist Ray, wouldn't you agree? ;)
CO2 is a fertilizer, not a pH balancing agent, so why treat it as such? fluctuating pH is not harmful.
At the very least, it's just wasting CO2.

And as for my 2 cents, I don't think they were personally attacking your decision to buy one Ray. And asking that only people who own one to give input is a little silly. I don't own a substrate heater, but I can tell you using one is ineffective. Similarly, using the reasons stated above, I can give many reasons for not using a pH controller.


Hoppy - as always, very well said.
 

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Personally, I like not using one, as it allows oxygen levels to increase at night, when plants and fish need it. Injecting CO2 without light makes very little sense to me. As a scientist Ray, wouldn't you agree? ;)
CO2 is a fertilizer, not a pH balancing agent, so why treat it as such? fluctuating pH is not harmful.
At the very least, it's just wasting CO2.

And as for my 2 cents, I don't think they were personally attacking your decision to buy one Ray. And asking that only people who own one to give input is a little silly. I don't own a substrate heater, but I can tell you using one is ineffective. Similarly, using the reasons stated above, I can give many reasons for not using a pH controller.
Let's see if I can make something clear here. This thread started with someone who asked about pH controllers. A whole bunch of people (none of whom actually own such a device) chimed in and told him/her that they are "no good"/"not worth it." Now I actually own a pH controller and think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Those people who don't own one make up stuff about pH controllers to prove they are no good. I own one and see that they don't know what they are talking about because what they say is laughably ignorant.
Now this is science. What I say about ph controllers come from my actual experience with the equipment. These are facts.
The stuff you get from people who never owned one is just ignorance, superstition and hearsay. If they were scientific they would quote from someone who actually owned or tested one.

I am not trying to antagonize you but your post is typical of the other posts. It is someone making stuff up based on what they think pH controllers do without actually having used or researched them. Let me point out some typical misconceptions:

"Injecting CO2 without light makes very little sense to me. As a scientist Ray, wouldn't you agree?"

The controller only goes on when there is a demand for CO2 which is typically at full lights. As far as I know (and I've checked it a number of times because I was concerned about this myth) it never (rarely) goes on at night.

"CO2 is a fertilizer, not a pH balancing agent, so why treat it as such? fluctuating pH is not harmful."

CO2 is part of the CO2/HCO3/CO3 buffer system which is practically the only inorganic buffer system available. It is your opinion (which is not supported by a lot of fish keeping people) that fluctuating pH is not harmful. Even if you are right, what does it matter if someone wants to maintain control over the environment of their aquarium in a way that includes pH.

Here is the choice. You can believe ignorance superstition and hearsay or you can ask some one who knows. If you actually own one I'd really like to hear about your experience!
 

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If you stop injecting CO2 at night, or any other time, the amount dissolved in the water will drop, possibly slowly, depending on how much surface disturbance you have. If the pH controller really does maintain a near constant pH, and I have no doubt that it does, then it has to allow some CO2 to flow periodically at night as well as during the lights on time. Every morning my drop checker shows a higher pH than it showed during the previous day, so I know my tank, at least, does lose CO2 at night. I purposely keep some surface disturbance to increase oxygen absorption and to deplete the CO2 at night a little quicker.

In a fish only tank there is no CO2 injection to make the pH change. In fact the pH should remain virtually constant unless something generated in the tank makes it change. And, if that happens, the substance making it change is adding to the TDS, and may even be harmful itself to the fish. So, for a fish only tank maintaining a steady pH is desirable. It is easy and cheap to measure pH, compared to measuring TDS or a concentration of "bad" substances, so for many years it has been recommended to maintain a constant and sometimes even a specific pH in a fish only tank.
 

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Any help and advice about this system and any other possible system is very, very welcome!

This was originally posted. Now I thoroughly researched them and made my decision not to purchase one. Just because I went the opposite way you did dose not make my advise in valid. The same way that you making your decision dose not make you advise better. I chose to follow those "who are truly better than me" and I have learned much. I know that amano and tom barr don't use them and with good reason(not because they can't afford them). So I chose no to reinvent the wheel by learning the same thing my self. Much like the poster I do have money to buy what ever I like, some things are not worth it. This is my opinion and I am allowed to express and have it. Truth is owning some thing means just that, It dose not and will never make you and expert on it. I do love you though ray, you hold you ground no matter what!!! And with such vigilance.....WOW!!:eek:

fabrizio- this is where I get some of my information

"Fish keeping does not add CO2 to control pH though.
They use buffers like baking soda.

When the pH drops fast, it's a sign of some cycling going very wrong in a fish only tank, when you add say 4 Kh more baking soda to a 2 Kh tank, the fish will die and the pH will shoot up fast.

CO2 is not the same.

Think about this thought question:

What happens if I do a massive 60-70% weekly water change when I add CO2 and have a pH of 6.2, and the incoming tap is 7.6?

How much pH change do I see over a few minutes?
About 1 full unit.

The KH is the same with respect to the tap water and the tank water.
So the osmotic difference is the same, CO2 is not a salt.

Now, think about what folks do using CO2 and in planted tanks with 50% weekly water changes......

Any reports of dead fish?
None.
Healthy happy fish and plants?
Yes.

I'll let you ponder the rest and see how pH, at least in and of itself is not really the issue, rather the KH/buffering systems that change rapidly, and thereby also by definition, change the pH, are the real issue with respect to fish health.

Fish hobbyist hardly know beans about GH, KH, and chemistry of the pH/KH/CO2 system as it is. And then only in relation to ambient, not fertilization with CO2 ppms.

So that causes myths and confusion."

Regards,
Tom Barr

(thank you again Tom)

yes another quote, sorry about the band with:rolleyes:
 

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Here is the choice. You can believe ignorance superstition and hearsay or you can ask some one who knows. If you actually own one I'd really like to hear about your experience!
Takashi Amano, Tom Barr, Rex Grigg and many others have shown a thorough grasp of planted aquaria, and are true pioneers of the hobby. When they say "you don't need this, it's a waste of money." I listen, as do many others. They don't make these claims lightly, and in the case of Tom Barr, almost all of his claims are backed up with data. Not "spent 5 minutes searching on google" data, but actual scientific methodology. Feel free to see for yourself. Take a look around that site, then come back and talk some more about superstition and ignorance.
Have you tested your pH controller vs. a fluctuating system? You can't be basing all of your viewpoint off of subjective personal experience. You claim to be a scientist, so you must believe in the method of science. You have made your hypothesis clear, but objective results have not been produced.
Test a fluctuating CO2 system vs. your pH controller. Show data, pictures of your results. Mr. Amano and Mr. Barr can repeatedly prove that their system works wonderfully, with the very healthiest plants and fish. If you want the respect they have earned, do as they did, and lead with your actions.

Until then, don't expect anyone to take you too seriously. :)
 

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In a fish only tank there is no CO2 injection to make the pH change. In fact the pH should remain virtually constant unless something generated in the tank makes it change.
What do you think fish do? They inject CO2 into the system.

If you are saying that CO2 is removed from your tank by aeration, this is true. But the rate is very slow compared with the rate consumed by plants (at least in my aquarium).

Here is the point. You can make up any story you like, but have you used a pH controller? I have. Now it may go on at night without me knowing about it but whenever I've looked it was not working and the pH was constant.

During the day it is basically on all the time.
 

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"Fish keeping does not add CO2 to control pH though.
They use buffers like baking soda.

When the pH drops fast, it's a sign of some cycling going very wrong in a fish only tank, when you add say 4 Kh more baking soda to a 2 Kh tank, the fish will die and the pH will shoot up fast.

CO2 is not the same.

Think about this thought question:

What happens if I do a massive 60-70% weekly water change when I add CO2 and have a pH of 6.2, and the incoming tap is 7.6?

How much pH change do I see over a few minutes?
About 1 full unit.

The KH is the same with respect to the tap water and the tank water.
So the osmotic difference is the same, CO2 is not a salt.

Now, think about what folks do using CO2 and in planted tanks with 50% weekly water changes......

Any reports of dead fish?
None.
Healthy happy fish and plants?
Yes.

I'll let you ponder the rest and see how pH, at least in and of itself is not really the issue, rather the KH/buffering systems that change rapidly, and thereby also by definition, change the pH, are the real issue with respect to fish health.

Fish hobbyist hardly know beans about GH, KH, and chemistry of the pH/KH/CO2 system as it is. And then only in relation to ambient, not fertilization with CO2 ppms.

So that causes myths and confusion."
Partially deleted to save band width.

Let me point something out. I consider myself at the intermediate level when it comes to growing plants in an aquarium but I am a professional (which means that I get paid to do this) expert at chemistry and my special interest right now is water chemistry.

So I probably know more than Tom Barr and Takashi Amano combined about that subject.

So if Tom Barr says:

"Fish keeping does not add CO2 to control pH though.
They use buffers like baking soda."

He obviously doesn't know anything about water chemistry.

I don't know how to put a full semester of P. Chem. into a short post but let see if I can explain something.

CO2 = H2CO3= HCO3- = CO3(-2)
What this means is that any of these species will convert to the other and all are present in water. The amount of each depends on the pH and the amount of spectator ions like Na (referred to in aquarium literature as kH).

So when you add baking soda (NaHCO3) to your tank you are adding CO2 as well. In fact, one of the ways they make baking soda is by adding CO2 to a solution of Na2CO3.

Plants can crack out most of this CO2 and do so until the pH reaches about 8.4, which is the equilibrium point for the HCO3- = CO3(-2) reaction.

So when you add CO2 you are simply adjusting the relative levels of H2CO3, HCO3- and CO3(-2).

When Barr says:
"When the pH drops fast, it's a sign of some cycling going very wrong in a fish only tank, when you add say 4 Kh more baking soda to a 2 Kh tank, the fish will die and the pH will shoot up fast."

(Let me point out that he is a little confused about whether the pH goes up or down but that is not my point).

My point is that when you add 4kH more baking soda, the pH will go to 8.4 and you will increase the CO2 by 70 ppm (This CO2 is not usable by plants; since, they cannot crack it out at that pH). You could get every mg of this CO2 out simply by adjusting the pH down.

Now this is my experience after keeping fish over 30 years.

In a low kH/gH tank changes in pH are not necessarily fatal; however, lower pH is beneficial/necessary for many species. If you want to keep and breed these you will have to maintain a low pH.

BTW: There is no place in the Barr quote where he says he actually used one only the same type of off the top of your head stuff that everyone else is using on this thread. So far, no one has actually used one; so, they are all hypothecating.
 

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CO2 = H2CO3= HCO3- = CO3(-2)
What this means is that any of these species will convert to the other and all are present in water. The amount of each depends on the pH and the amount of spectator ions like Na (referred to in aquarium literature as kH).

So when you add baking soda (NaHCO3) to your tank you are adding CO2 as well. In fact, one of the ways they make baking soda is by adding CO2 to a solution of Na2CO3.

Plants can crack out most of this CO2 and do so until the pH reaches about 8.4, which is the equilibrium point for the HCO3- = CO3(-2) reaction.

So when you add CO2 you are simply adjusting the relative levels of H2CO3, HCO3- and CO3(-2).
Ray, Since you have knowledge of organic chemistry, I'm wondering if you could answer something for me. Allow me to get off topic for just ONE question, PLEASE!?!?!?!.

Is this similar to what happens when sugar is added to a planted tank? Could it actually make CO2? (Not that I would condone this or practice it...just curious about something I read. )

Thanks,
Dave
 

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Boy I feel badly for the poor guy who started this thread and simply wanted opinions on a co2 system. He's probably taken up a different hobby by now, scared to death of the crazy people in this one.

Anyway the bottom line is there is more than one way to do things. I never said a ph controller doesn't work I stated and it is a "fact" that it isn't needed to have a successful planted tank. So for a newbie it's probably easier to keep it simple. If you like your PH controller that's great and you should continue to use it.
 

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No, this is not the same thing. H2CO2, HCO3 and CO3 are basically the same thing with different amounts of H+ stuck to them.
Sugar is completely different. It is C6H12O6 and doesn’t react anything like the carbonate system.

The question whether sugar will turn into CO2 in your tank is actually an interesting question!

I can say with some assurance that sugar will be converted to CO2, if you have aerobic conditions in your tank.

All organic compounds are eventually converted to CO2 and water. The problem is that it is not like simple burning. In a biological matrix the sugar will be oxidized into a lot of intermediate compounds before it finally goes to CO2 and water. What these are and how they affect your fish/plants is hard to say.

My feeling is (which means this is an educated guess) that adding sugar to your water will promote the growth of a lot of bacteria and your tank will get cloudy and O2 levels will drop.

This guess is based on what happens to my wife’s humming bird feeder when she doesn’t sterilize it correctly.
 

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This could become an informative and interesting thread, even though we are poaching on the originator's thread, but injecting insults prevents it from being that. Perhaps someone wants to start a separate thread to discuss the subject.
 

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Your probably right.

I'll just pass on future post since I seem to be the one trying to swim up stream.

BTW I agree that it is not necessary to have a planted aquarium.
 

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This has been a very informing thread. I just got a ph controlled co2 system. I love it. I use a drop checker with 4dkh solution to monitor co2. I really don't care what the ph is set too. This is a discus tank so i don't mind a low ph, but my water parameters are 6.08PH, 5GH and 4kH.

Earlier in this thread it was stated that phosphates can alter the reading of a ph monitor probe. It was also stated that it can effect the drop checker results. Can someone go into more detail on this? What levels of phosphate have dramatic effects on the ph controller's reading? If using a 4dkH solution in your drop checker, does phosphate have any impact?

This is a great thread for anyone with questions about co2... lots of unasked questions answered here!

Stevie D
 

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The reason for using a drop checker is to isolate the water used to determine the ppm of CO2 from anything in the tank water, other than the CO2. The tiny amount of water in the drop checker has to be free of the ions that would affect the pH or KH, except for carbonates, which bring that water to a 4 dKH hardness (alkalinity).

I have never found a way to determine how "contaminated" the tank water is, and how it will affect the pH or KH. It must be possible to do that, if you have the test equipment needed. I do know that every person I have heard from, either by comments in forums or in person, who measures their CO2 concentration by using the pH/KH/CO2 table always gets a number that is too high, never too low. Typically I hear that someone keeps his tank at 120 ppm of CO2 and the fish are happy as a lark. That just isn't possible. I know from my experience that a ppm of CO2, based on a drop checker, that makes the checker really yellow will kill even guppies, and that would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 ppm of CO2. It isn't known, to my knowledge, how much concentration of CO2 kills which fish, but that number is almost certainly less than 100 ppm. The most recent information I have is from Tom Barr, using a precision CO2 concentration meter, who found that concentrations around 40-50+ ppm don't bother very small fish, but they do bother large fish. I think this is why so many of us have found that keeping our drop checker in the yellow-green area doesn't bother our small fish.
 

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This has been a very informing thread. I just got a ph controlled co2 system. I love it. I use a drop checker with 4dkh solution to monitor co2. I really don't care what the ph is set too. This is a discus tank so i don't mind a low ph, but my water parameters are 6.08PH, 5GH and 4kH.

Earlier in this thread it was stated that phosphates can alter the reading of a ph monitor probe. It was also stated that it can effect the drop checker results. Can someone go into more detail on this? What levels of phosphate have dramatic effects on the ph controller's reading? If using a 4dkH solution in your drop checker, does phosphate have any impact?

This is a great thread for anyone with questions about co2... lots of unasked questions answered here!

Stevie D
Phosphates in your water do not affect the reading of your pH meter. The pH it gives you is correct for any buffer system. The issue is how the pH of your tank corresponds with the level of CO2 in your tank.

The whole thing comes from tables like this one:
http://www.aquatic-plants.org/articles/basics/pages/04_co2.html

If you go to this table, you will see that for your tank parameters at a pH of 6.08 you are well into the danger zone of CO2 level and it would seem that your fish are going to die. In fact this doesn't happen because you have some other buffer system working in your tank (probably PO4). These other buffers interfere with the theoretical pH / kH / CO2 curve and give inaccurate readings.

When you use a bubble counter you fill it with a known 4.0 kH solution with no impurities. One part of the counter is in contact with the tank water and CO2 diffuses from the tank water and dissolves in the 4.0 kH solution. Because of the chemistry, after a while, the level of CO2 in the checker is the same as in your tank. Because there is no extra buffers in the drop checker, you can measure the CO2 using the pH of this solution. Typically this is done with a pH indicating dye. The color of the dye gives an indication of the pH and by inference the level of CO2.

Generally speaking what is in your tank water should not affect the drop checker unless some tank water contaminates the special solution in the drop checker.
 
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